It doesn’t work in any other scenario of which I’m aware. Imagine Canada lobbing hundreds…
To be clear, there fails to exist a circumstance or scenario where I believe this President or any President can alter the constitution or its interpretation with an Executive Order. Any conservative who claims Trump can do after eight years of screaming about Obama’s use of executive power deserves to have their conservative credential card pulled. That being said, the Constitution of the United States was never designed to be a static document. It was presupposed by the founders that there would exist a scenario where the nation may need to alter it. There were, in fact, 27 such scenarios where the nation decided to do so. While Trump may have stumbled over his interpretation of Presidential power, he may have very well stumbled on to a valid point. Should the United States of America offer citizenship to anyone born within our borders in any scenario imaginable without exception. The 14th Amendment was written in the aftermath of the Civil War to accomplish a particular purpose. That purpose now accomplished, have we entered into a new era of history where the remnants of an outdated law are creating terrible modern consequences? Land wherever you may on the issue, but what is a discernible truth is that it is now a question submitted to the public forum and the answer might surprise many.
Born in the USA
More than a Springsteen song, the phrase born in the USA has been the hopes and dreams of many immigrants for their children. There is simply few greater gifts one can give their children than citizenship in the United States of America. With it comes a quality of life, where even at the lower ends of the spectrum is the envy of the planet. In the wake of the Civil War it is what turned the children of slaves into citizens and what made countless new generations of Americans from the waves of immigrants settling this great land. If one were to transplant me back to the late 1860’s I could hardly think of a timelier and appropriate policy than birthright citizenship.
However, times have changed and perhaps it is time that our constitution change with it. There is no longer a great American frontier to be settled and the borders of most nation-states on the planet seem somewhat fixed. The world order has kept the piece for the most and the days of conquering a foreign land to annex it as your own seem all but over. With our borders fixed and population rising, it would seem a good time revisit just who gets this golden ticket known as American citizenship.
Welcome to the Legal Immigrants of the World
To start, I’d submit that a complete abolition of the 14th Amendment would be a step too far. I can see in many cases the value of legal immigrants tackling the long and arduous citizenship process whose children born in the U.S. getting citizenship. It can take years to become a citizen and I’d submit that immigrants like to procreate just like the next person. A child born to immigrants pursuing the legal path to citizenship is likely to be raised as red, white and blue American as the next kid. I see no downside to granting these kids citizenship.
However, the story changes a bit when it comes to illegal immigrants or perhaps just visitors to the United States of America. With citizenship being such a prize, it would seem that to offer that to the children of illegal immigrants would be to encourage illegal behavior. What pregnant immigrant in their right mind would forfeit the opportunity to give their child such a gift? Moreover, if one is simply visiting the United States of America or perhaps attending school here with no intent to become a citizen themselves, it seems an odd gift to grant to one’s children. The statistics on “birth tourism” have been wildly exaggerated, but it does happen. A strange thing to give such a prize to a family with no loyalty to the nation giving it.
Maybe Trump is right. Maybe the effects of birthright citizenship in modernity are a negative to this nation. Maybe, just maybe, the 14th Amendment does need to be altered in order to reflect the current reality. It should not, however, be done with an Executive Order. Conservatives energized by this idea should fear what would come to pass with other amendments like the beloved 2nd if this is possible. However, whether the 14th has outlived its intent is a fair question to ask. Perhaps it is long past time for America to reconsider the 14th Amendment.